Tiger Woods struggles but glad to be back after ‘dire’ times

Tournament host Tiger Woods shakes hands with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan after Matsuyama won the Hero World Challenge at Albany, the Bahamas. Picture: Getty Images
Tournament host Tiger Woods shakes hands with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan after Matsuyama won the Hero World Challenge at Albany, the Bahamas. Picture: Getty Images
Share this article
2
Have your say

Tiger Woods admitted there had been “some pretty dire times” during his 15-month injury absence after a closing 76 saw him finish 15th at the Hero World Challenge, 14 shots behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.

The 14-time major winner, who came through 72 holes unscathed in the 18-man event in the Bahamas, had three double bogeys, three bogeys and five birdies as he finished with his worst round of the week.

However, the 40-year-old insisted he was delighted to be competing again after two back operations.

“There were some pretty dire times when I couldn’t move,” said Woods. “You just lay there and you can’t move – those are scary times.

“It’s great to be back playing against the best players in the world, but unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes this week. I made some poor decisions.

“Getting my lights back and my body back and focusing for a long period of time – these are things I’ve missed for a year and a half. I made some birdies this week, which is nice. I always want to be aggressive, but I made some bad mistakes – you can’t make two sevens. The pain and issues I’ve had, it was just rough.”

A sparkling 65 on Friday had briefly thrust Woods into contention but there were signs of rust in the final round, with the American thinning a wedge over the back of the sixth green en route to his first double bogey of the day.

A hat-trick of birdies from the seventh got him to the turn in level par, but Woods then dropped four shots in three holes, with his short game letting him down on the 11th with two poor chips.

Back-to-back gains on the 14th and 15th took Woods birdie count to 24 – the highest in the field this week – as he finished on four under par.

Japan’s Matsuyama carded a closing 73 to take the title on 18 under, two clear of Open champion Henrik Stenson.

Meanwhile, Brandon Stone cruised to a seven-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Home favourite Stone, who began 2016 with a win at the BMW SA Open in January, produced a closing 67 at 
Leopard Creek Country Club to finish the week on 22 under par. Fellow South African Richard Sterne – a former winner of this event – finished alone in second on 15 under after posting a flawless 67 in his final round.

Last year’s champion Charl Schwartzel held a share of the lead early yesterday after making a strong start, but a triple bogey at the 15th and a double at the 16th saw him finish in a share of fourth on 12 under in a group which included Scott Jamieson, pictured, who fired a final round 69 to finish as the top Scot. David Drysdale carded a closing 73 to finish a further two shots adrift.

Elsewhere, Harold Varner III overcame local favourite Andrew Dodt in a thrilling final-day battle to win the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.

Queenslander Dodt had led since day one and came into the final round with a two-shot lead over fellow Australian Ashley Hall and Varner, but the American carded a brilliant closing 65 to take the title by two shots at 19 under.

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher fired a 69 to finish at six under alongside Tom Lewis, two shots clear of another Englishman in Ian Poulter and Wales’ Oliver Farr.

Wins from Catriona 
Matthew, Georgia Hall and Florentyna Parker helped Trish Johnson’s Ladies European Tour team take third place at The Queens in Japan with victory over Australia.

Johnson’s team triumphed by nine points to seven in the battle for third place, while South Korea routed Japan 15-1 in the final.

Scotland’s Matthew defeated Rachel Hetherington two up to make it three wins out of three over the weekend, while Parker beat Sarah Kemp 5&4 and Hall saw off Katherine Kirk 2&1. But even then the battle came down to the last hole of the final match, with Sweden’s Linda Wessberg edging out Stacey Keating to secure the victory.